Intrigue surrounds this evening excursion. "Riverquest" abandons the shores of Eagle Landing State Park in Haddam in search of a "secret spot" where a bird phenomonon occurs every September. We cruise down the gorgeous Connecticut River, passing the historic swing bridge and The Goodspeed Opera House. We spy a few Bald Eagles along the way, but this trip isn't about those majestic creatures. It focuses on a much more common bird with very unusual flight behavior.
"You have to be in the right spot at the right time or you don't see it," says Andy Griswold, Director or the CT Audubon's EcoTravel Division. And, just like that, a black cloud comes from the horizon and the show begins. An "aerial ballet" starts above the visitors heads. The tornado of birds resembles fireworks and shooting stars. "It's a giant wheel going around," muses visitor Jim Denham of Essex, who notes the amazing dimensions of this Tree Swallow Spectacular. The birds, which are about 6 inches long with a white throat and beautiful irridescent feathers, move in incredible layers. The site is really unique. Simple yet stunning.
The birds, five-hundred thousand or so, have chosen this spot because they are attracted to the reeds which make a perfect bedt. "Safety in numbers is the old adage, as they rest for the night, they go down in one big group," says Griswold.
When the show is over, the visitors' faces are glowing just like the shimmering water and the incredible sunset. "Awesome," says Jim Tabor of Deep River. "It takes your breath away."
There are three cruises a week through September. The cost per person is $40.00.
Griswold says, "People will come back year after year to see this incredible ballet on wings."